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New version will bring the UI inline with Windows Phone

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows 8 operating system was a bold and risky gambit, which traded familiarity for an innovative new graphically rich (some say too graphically rich) user interface.  Now the veteran operating system maker is eyeing more ambitious changes, notably a shift to an Apple, Inc. (AAPL)-like track of more frequent (perhaps annual) operating system releases.

I. Windows Blue to Land in 2013?

Originally thought to be a service pack, sources at Microsoft have been spilling word of an upcoming release called Windows "Blue" (perhaps a code-name) to ZDNet and The Verge in recent months.

According to the latest rumors, the 2013 release will be inexpensive or perhaps free, to incentivize upgrades.  And it will be a full operating system upgrade.  In this regard, the new development cycle Microsoft is moving towards closely resembles Apple's -- frequent, cheap operating system upgrades.

Microsoft is also planning a move that may shock and upset some developers -- it will reportedly release a new version of its SDK for Windows Blue, and at that point will stop accepting Windows Store apps built on the old Windows 8 SDK.  Again, this choice is a calculated tactic on Microsoft's part to push developers and users to embrace the new platform.

The new OS will also shift Microsoft's position regarding leniency for users upgrading from pirate versions.  With Blue, if you upgrade from a pirated copy of Windows 8, even if you bought a legitimate copy your Windows Store and the built-in-apps will still be bricked.

Windows Blue
[Image Source: NeoWin]

According to ZDNet, the term "Windows 9" has begun to creep into text in Microsoft employee postings, suggesting Microsoft may official dub the upcoming OS Windows 9, when it hits release next year.

Another report from Neowin suggests that the new operating system will move Windows 8 to using smaller Live Tiles, similar to those in Windows Phone 8.  This would seem to agree with The Verge's sources who suggest Windows Blue/Windows 9 will be part of an effort to complete the transition of Windows Phone and Windows (PC) into a single code-base and consistent user interface.  As part of this effort, Windows Phone may receive a corresponding "Blue" update, as well.

II. Are Windows Users Ready for Another Big Shift?

The news of the big shift in release cycles and upcoming new 2013 Windows release comes on the heels of Microsoft's first report on the health of Windows 8 sales.

In its release Microsoft announced that it had moved 40 million licenses in its first month of sales, despite no longer offering the free upgrades for purchasers who bought machines in the months leading up to the release (as it did with Windows 7).

Of course, critics will be quick to point that Microsoft reduced upgrade fees (albeit charging more of them), did not disclose its revenue associated with the upgrades, and did not disclose how many of its licenses sold to OEMs were resold.

Apple store NYC
Will Windows users embrace an Apple-like release schedule? [Image Source: Double DT]
 
Nonetheless, it appears Windows 8 wasn't the complete disaster some doomsayers predicted.  It should be interesting whether Microsoft's next big shift at least receives as warm a welcome as Windows 8.

Sources: ZDNet, The Verge, NeoWin



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Win 7 Desktop option
By merc14 on 11/29/2012 3:00:29 PM , Rating: 3
I am guessing that 9 will be 64 bit only. Also, they should make a "traditional desktop" an easy option in the personalize section as that change alone would open it up to a much wider audience. The present configuration on desktop feels disjointed and not well thought out.




RE: Win 7 Desktop option
By haukionkannel on 11/29/2012 3:08:15 PM , Rating: 2
Not likely. Intel next Atom CPU is still 32 bit, so win 8 will be allso 32bit... You can not win against market leader...


RE: Win 7 Desktop option
By alcalde on 11/29/2012 10:26:28 PM , Rating: 3
You have understand the reasoning. The present configuration is NOT because it works well on the desktop. The present configuration is because Sinofsky argued toe-to-toe with Ballmer to convince him that the only way Win8 tablets and phones were going to sell would be basically leveraging the monopoly by forcing users to learn the Metro UI so that when they go into a store for their next phone/tablet they'll choose the Metro one because they don't want to have to learn a new UI. Even the VP of WinPhone said in a conference call that soon Metro would be the world's most familiar UI, "...and that's great for our phone business".

Now does the existence of Metro on the desktop make sense? Now does being forced to use the Metro start screen make sense? Now does MS disabling the registry key to bypass Metro make sense? Now does the firing of Sinofsky make sense? :-)

As David Gerwitz of ZDNet put it, desktop users are "being thrown under the bus" for a shot at the mobile market.

I doubt with so much riding on it that MS will backtrack in a few months' time. People need to stop with the Stockholm Syndrome and say heck no to being force-fed Metro and having their desktop systems locked down to only being able to install apps from the Windows store (with MS pushing developers to WinRT library (Metro), a move which Blue will hasten with its own new SDK that needs to be used). Even Apple hasn't had the cajones to try that yet, but they've been inching there over the last three OS X releases and you can be sure that they'll follow suit if they see MS get away with it. Users have to stop the petty fanboy wars and Windows, OS X, Linux and BSD users need to stand together and stop their PCs from becoming appliances both on the software and hardware (Intel BGA) sides.


RE: Win 7 Desktop option
By safcman84 on 11/30/2012 9:25:44 AM , Rating: 2
MS wont stop you installing non windows store apps on their Windows 8 PCs.

Windows 8 RT and Phone will be (and are)closed systems, but not the full version of Win 8.

Windows 8 does not change anything compared to Windows 7 except giving you a start screen instead of a start menu. I dont see the issue with that. I have it, use it and I am going to keep it.

The only negative thing about "metro" that I can see is that I can't figure out how to make apps from the app store NOT install on the system drive - as it is a SSD and I only want a select few programs to be installed on it. but then again, I dont really buy apps from the app store, so it isnt a major issue. hell, it might even be possible to do it but I havent taken the time/effort to really look into it yet.


RE: Win 7 Desktop option
By alcalde on 11/30/2012 11:05:22 PM , Rating: 2
>MS wont stop you installing non windows store apps on their
>Windows 8 PCs.

MS does stop users from installing Metro apps on Windows 8 PCs. Every new feature of Windows 8 is in the new WinRT library. Developers are being pressured to move to WinRT. When they do, Windows Store becomes the only installation option. "Blue" and its new SDK is another move designed to push developers to WinRT. I wish people would stop saying "you can install desktop apps". That's fine until there aren't desktop apps. MS even attempted to disable their ultra-popular Visual Studio Express from being able to develop non-Metro apps until there was an outcry and they decided to put the ability to target the desktop back in. We've seen this same thinking on OS X:

Apple introduces OS X Store: "It's just an option; you can still install whatever you want."
Apple adds option to only allow software to be installed from OS X Store: "No big deal; it's just something someone can turn on for extra security. It's not even the default."
Apple makes it the default in OS X Mountain Lion: "It's no big deal; you can go in and turn it off when you get your Mac/after you upgrade."

One guess as to what the next step is for OS X in either the next release or the one after, especially if Microsoft gets away with Windows Store on the desktop? That option to disable quietly disappears. Some OS X users have seen the writing on the wall and at least one popular Apple blogger (who predicted all of those moves before they happened) announced he was switching to Ubuntu as a result because he knew what was coming next. Now a segment of Windows users are doing the same thing, ignoring the completely obvious pattern about what's going on here. One's an incident, two's a coincidence, three's a pattern. Metro UI registry tweak removed, WinStore lock-down, attempt to pull desktop devel from VS Express, NYT reveals Sinofsky pitched mandatory Metro to Ballmer, VP of WinPhone conference call in which he touts desktop Metro as good for WinPhone sales, now Blue? That's a pattern.

>Windows 8 RT and Phone will be (and are)closed systems, but not
>the full version of Win 8.

Blue converges Windows 8 and Windows phone both on the kernel/software side AND THE PROGRAMMING SIDE. If you write for Win8 you'll have to use Blue SDK and Blue SDK also applies to the phone. In effect, MS is forcing anyone who wants to sell Metro apps through their store - and they can't get their Metro apps onto your PC any other way - to develop for the phone too! What's being locked down are the developers themselves! They're being coerced into making every Metro app they write also runnable on a WinPhone and Tablet if they want to develop for the Metro desktop, and given Windows is a monopoly, that's somewhat of a necessity, at least for the time being. You don't see this as a problem? Microsoft store also dictates how the software must perform, including startup time of two seconds or less. Don't expect to see complex games using the WinRT library! It also excludes certain software licenses, such as GPLv3. Microsoft will have a heck of a lot more control over most of the world's PCs than it's ever had before.

>Windows 8 does not change anything compared to Windows 7 except
>giving you a start screen instead of a start menu.

Really? Have you noticed that all Metro apps run on full screen, even on a 27" monitor, for starters, and can't overlap? All because MS' goal (which I can't believe you can't see) is to make every desktop app also runnable on a smart phone - even if the developer doesn't want to?

>I dont see the issue with that. I have it, use it and I am going
>to keep it.

Two words: Stockholm Syndrome.


RE: Win 7 Desktop option
By WinstonSmith on 11/30/2012 9:47:17 AM , Rating: 2
"You have understand the reasoning. The present configuration is NOT because it works well on the desktop. The present configuration is because Sinofsky argued toe-to-toe with Ballmer to convince him that the only way Win8 tablets and phones were going to sell would be basically leveraging the monopoly by forcing users to learn the Metro UI so that when they go into a store for their next phone/tablet they'll choose the Metro one because they don't want to have to learn a new UI."

Thank you! Win8 is a strong arm move that has nothing to do with any kind of desktop OS "upgrade," but is, instead, a touchscreen OS for tablets and smart phones forced onto the desktop. Thus, it's a compromise OS, not one optimized for desktop PC use. Note that the Microsoft Win8 TV commercials show only touchscreen devices being used.

Usability Expert: Windows 8 on PCs is Confusing, a Cognitive Burden

http://blog.laptopmag.com/usability-expert-windows...

Excerpt:

"Windows 8 is optimized for content consumption rather than content production and multitasking. Whereas content consumption can easily be done on other media (tablets and phones), production and multitasking are still best suited for PCs. Windows 8 appears to ignore that."

Windows 8 — Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/windows-8.html

Repurposing vs. Optimized Design

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/repurposing.html


RE: Win 7 Desktop option
By Fritzr on 12/2/2012 2:56:39 AM , Rating: 2
You are commenting on a Win8 x86 article.

Your expert is reviewing a WinRT ARM tablet that is Metro only.

The ARM tablets are equivalent to Android and iOS. All of the negatives apply to these two tablet families also and probably explains their (iOS & Android) total failure in the marketplace.


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